Friday, January 27, 2006

So you think you can forecast the weather?

Everyday, I hear it either via email, phonecall or on the street:

"I could do a better job at predicting the weather than those guys."

Or this one:

"If I was that wrong at my job, I'd get fired!"

Now is your chance to back up your tough talk or as they say--"weather smack"--with action.

The following are forecast weather maps for Monday morning, January 30th.

Before you give me the typical "All-you-guys-look-at-are-colors-and-squiggly-lines", here is the technical explanation of what you are looking at.

Each map is the forecast result of a supercomputer cranking out what "it" thinks will happen on Monday, roughly 3 days from the time that I write this. The map on the left--called the EUROPEAN MODEL--is the solution from a different set of mathematical equations than the map on the left which is called the MRF MODEL. If you think you can assemble a 5 or 8 day forecast then you need to be able to accurately interpret maps like this. Can you tell any differences between both maps for northeastern Ohio? Can any of you even find northeastern Ohio?

The map on the left suggests that Monday morning, a low pressure over Michigan will usher in colder air with a changeover from rain to wet snow with temps near 30. The map on the right suggests the low will track through Indiana keeping temps in the mid 30s with primarily rain instead of snow.

If anyone other than another weather person can ascertain the same conclusion looking at those maps, you can have my job. In fact, I'm willing to bet that most of you had absolutely no clue...which is fine. There is nothing wrong with admitting defeat at the hands of the person that you mock whenever the atmosphere doesn't cooperate. I fully accept your white flag.

Seriously, I am not suggesting that being a meteorologist is the toughest job out there. All I ask as your friendly, neighborhood meteorologist is for a little love and understanding. Those maps you are looking at convey a message to you the viewer through us, the meteorologist. We do the best we can with the maps we have. Some are great, others are out of whack. Its up to the meteorologists to determine which one, if any, are more correct.

If you don't like it, learn how to read maps that show northeastern Ohio as a small spot roughly a quarter of an inch long. Once your through here, study some second order non-linear differential equations along with some cloud physics. Finally, assemble your findings in a concise presentation no longer than 3 minutes with a concentration on the differences in the short term forecast between Lorain, Ohio and Chardon, Ohio while someone is speaking to you in your ear piece telling you how much time you have left to finish your presentation. While the person is speaking to you, continue talking as if nothing is happening. Oh yes, your in front of a camera broadcasting your every word to more than one million people whose livelihoods depend on your expert analysis. Oh by the way, don't studder.

Yeah, the job of meteorologist isn't hard at all.

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